To the Phœnicians was long ascribed the
good fortune of the discovery. It is stated by Pliny, (Nat. Hist.
lib. xxvi c. 26,) "that some mariners, who had a cargo of
(salt, or as some have supposed, soda,) on board, having landed on the
banks of the river Belus, a small stream, at the base of Mount Carmel,
in Palestine; and finding no stones to rest their pots on, they placed
under them some masses of nitrum, which being fused by the heat, with
the sand of the river, produced a liquid and transparent stream: such
was the origin of Glass." However this may have been, the sand which
lay for about half a mile round the river, was peculiarly well adapted
for the making of Glass. The Sidonians, in whose vicinity the discovery
was made, took it up, and in process of time, carried the art to a high
degree of excellence; they are even said to have invented Glass mirrors.
It is, however, a curious fact in the history of discovery, that the
manufacture of Glass was, a few years since, unknown at
Sidon, where it is reputed to have been first invented.
The above account by Pliny is, in substance,
corroborated by Strabo, (xvi. 15,) and by Josephus, (De Bell. Jud.
ii. 9.) Notwithstanding this explicit statement, it was long asserted
that the ancients were unacquainted with Glass, properly so called; nor
did the denial entirely disappear, even when Pompeii presented evidences
of the skill of the ancients in Glass-making.
Our minute knowledge of Egypt, has, however,
proved Glass-working to have been known by the Egyptians, at a very
early period of their national existence. Sir J. G. Wilkinson, in his
able work on the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians,
has adduced three distinct proofs that the art of